A Treasury of Hebrew Legends for Children
Adapted By Shoham Smit
Illustrated by Vali Mintzi
"The deeds of the fathers are signs to the children"
The stories of Our Sages (Hazal) have accompanied the Jewish people for generations. Through them we come to know exemplary people from Jewish heritage, their lifestyles, and the challenges and difficulties they faced. The tales address issues of morality, religion, society, and education that are relevant to all, anywhere, at any time, even in the 21st century.
We hope that reading and discussing these stories with your children will prompt you to reflect and ponder upon the issues they address. Enjoy!
The characters described in the stories are often referred to as Our Sages, or in Hebrew, Hazal, which is an acronym for Hakhameinu Zikhronam Livrakha – Our Sages of Blessed Memory. After you have read the stories together, you may want to talk about sages and wisdom with your child. How do we classify a person as a "sage"? Who do we define as sages these days? Are we aware of different kinds of wisdom?
Were you already familiar with some of the tales included in this book? Perhaps you heard them as children, and would like to share with your child who told them to you and what you learned from them. Did you enjoy the stories?
Some stories have several versions. Are you familiar with any other version of the stories included in this book (found in Sefer HaAggadah, the Talmud or other sources)? You may want to look for these stories together, and compare the different versions.
The tales of Our Sages and Midrashim have been passed down from one generation to the next, whether in written form or orally. Do you have a story in your family that you heard from your grandparents, one that has been passed down throughout the generations? You could continue this generation chain by telling it to your child.
You could ask your child which of the stories included in this book was their favorite. You may want to think together of its significance in this day and age. Which character do you identify with? How would you have reacted in a similar situation?
You may want to choose one of the stories and act it out. You could even look around the house for relevant costumes and accessories (fabrics, capes, pitchers, etc.).
Do you know other stories surrounding the characters featured in this book? This is a wonderful opportunity to enrich your child's knowledge of traditional stories, sayings and proverbs.
Relevant resources in Hebrew: You may find the Aggadah stories for kids website helpful, or the full version of Shoham Smit's book, A Treasury of Hebrew Legends for Children. You could also use other Hazal story collections, such as Yocheved Segal's series entitled Ko Asu Hakhameinu, or Uri Orbach's Hakhameinu Leyameinu.
Enjoy reading and discussing the book together!